Location: Denver, Colo.
Occupation: I have been working as a professional musician and instructor, teaching accordion, ukulele, piano and music theory as well as teaching Ashtanga Yoga.
Connection to Balkan music/dance: I have a group, Passersby, that draws on some Balkan influence. I’m challenged by Balkan music, its intricate time signatures, the rich harmonies, and the overall feeling of something familiar keep me interested in playing the accordion and sharing it with my world. The influence of Balkan music makes my artistic writing process much more exciting. I just recently moved to Colorado and have had the opportunity to sing with the group Planina (Planina.org). The rehearsals leave me inspired and excited to learn more and sharpen my skills. Also, dancing every chance I get keeps me feeling light in my body and my heart alive with inspiration (helps with weird time signatures, too).
Number of times at Balkan camp: This was my second year.
Studied at camp: I was really interested in being as focused as possible on the accordion. Camp can be overwhelming in the amount of content and nuance being presented; I wanted to be as receptive as possible.
Memorable moment at camp: I was quiet this year at camp and it brought me to a more reflective place. I watched more than last year and I asked many more questions. The most significant part of camp was one of the board meetings where we came together to speak about the future of the EEFC. The question of, “What are we doing here?” came up and the subsequent discussions were illuminating. We were all there for different reasons, very few lined up, and it left my head spinning a bit. Later that night as I reflected on why I was there, I came across a teacher’s cabin with lightning-fast accordion songs, singing and dancing all around. I stayed quiet as I observed these friends and strangers alike dance and cackle, drink and yell out song names that were met with laughter. We were all there for the same reason even though earlier in the day we had so many different responses. We were coming together to sing and dance and learn, to get away, to celebrate, but it was all built on the foundation of connection. It’s in the celebration of culture that we have the chance to celebrate our humanness, of what makes us all fundamentally the same. We raise our voices, join hands and let the spirit of our human bond come to life. The world stops and we are granted a glimmer into the endlessness of being; the gift of this human life and all life that has come before us, the life that will press on in song long after us.